English Heritage disappointed after Eric Pickles gives go-ahead for controversial Liverpool skyscraper development

 

English Heritage expressed its disappointment today after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles gave the go-ahead to a controversial skyscraper development on the banks of the Mersey fuelling fears that Liverpool’s historic waterfront will now be stripped of its World Heritage Status.

Britain could now become only the third country to lose the prestigious inscription when the World Heritage Committee meets in Cambodia in June after placing the city’s mercantile Pier Head area on the in-danger register last year.

Architectural groups have warned that plans for the £5.5bn high rise development on the site of derelict dockland will create a Dubai-style skyline which will dwarf Liverpool’s Three Graces buildings.

Opponents had pinned their hopes of halting the proposed 60 hectare scheme, which will include the 55-storey Shanghai Tower as well as 9,000 flats, retail space, hotels, bars and a cruise terminal, on Mr Pickles ordering a public inquiry.

But he wrote to Liverpool City Council this week to wave through the proposal insisting that local councillors were best placed to decide how to proceed. The council granted planning permission to developers Peel Holdings last year.

It is anticipated the 30-year project will lead to an eventual 30,000 jobs on Merseyside and spearhead the economic renaissance of the city. In a statement English Heritage said Mr Pickles’ decision failed to acknowledge alternative proposals which would have less impact on the celebrated buildings of the waterfront.

“We have always felt that it would have been possible to develop a scheme that delivered jobs and growth and which enhanced rather than harmed Liverpool's outstanding heritage. We are therefore very disappointed that Peel failed to take this opportunity and insisted that the current scheme was the one on which a decision must be taken," a spokeswoman said.

Peel, whose holdings include MediaCity UK, the Manchester Ship Canal and the Trafford Centre, said work could start as early as next year provided market conditions improve. The developer is also working on a vast regeneration project across the river at Birkenhead docks.

Development director at Peel, Lindsey Ashworth, said: “This is a well-deserved reward and justice for all those who never gave up supporting this scheme - the Government is now demonstrating its support for Liverpool Waters too.

“A big thank you goes to the people of Liverpool who have been behind this project all the way. The weight of our argument has succeeded in overcoming significant objections from both English Heritage and the World Heritage Body Unesco.”

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said the city’s waterfront heritage would still be protected.  “This announcement marks the start of a new era for Liverpool, paving the way to us delivering a world-class development which will transform a part of the city in desperate need of investment for decades. Liverpool Waters will create thousands of jobs and opportunities for local people, as well as providing new housing and attracting new businesses and visitors,” he said.

Inspectors from Unesco warned last year that the scheme threatened to leave the historic maritime mercantile environment around the Pier Head “irreversibly damaged” placing it on the threatened list alongside sites in Afghanistan, Iraq and Congo.

The Department for Culture Media and Sport has since submitted a state of conservation report to Unesco officials which will be considered in the summer at a meeting of the 21-strong committee.

One source said there was now a “strong possibility” Liverpool would join Dresden’s Elbe Valley and the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, the only other sites to be stripped of World Heritage Status for pushing ahead with development.

The area in Liverpool, which includes the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building, was inscribed in 2004 at the request of the UK Government ranking it alongside the Taj Mahal and Stonehenge.

English Heritage previously described the Liverpool Waters plans as “muddled, badly drafted and insufficiently precise”. The Government’s design watchdog Design Council CABE has queried the environmental credentials of the new buildings and described the plan as “generic and vague”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own